Archaeology forms one of the principal sources for classroom work on the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings. When the proposed changes to the primary school curriculum come into force. It will be the only source of information for the whole of prehistory. The best way to explain it to your children is to ask an expert to introduce the topic. In my classroom sessions I like to follow the process through from digging a site to work with finds to producing a report. Within this there’s plenty of room for flexibility and individual sessions can be tailored to suit the needs of individual classes. Some of the topics you might like me to cover are:
What do archaeologists do?
Essentially we look at other people’s rubbish, the scraps of everyday life that people have thrown away. Just like detectives we look for clues to tell us what people were doing in the past. It helps us understand the history of technology too, not just the history of people.
What kind of things do you find?
We can find all sorts of things from statues to little pieces of broken pot. Even the smallest find can tell us a lot. Finds-handling sessions like the one I offer really engage children’s attention. It also begins to make them think like an archaeologist as they work out how pieces fit together and what they once formed part of.
These are things we’ve found
Children are always digging about and finding bits and pieces. Ask the class members to bring them in and see if I can identify them. You never know what they’ll find. In the past we’ve had both Roman and medieval pottery turn up in people’s gardens.
Do you ever find any dead bodies?
Yes, I have but I can’t bring one into the classroom for you. The best way to talk about this is to ask for a pupil to volunteer to act the role. With the ‘dead body’ stretched out on a table at the front we can begin to talk about which of his/her possessions will survive for archaeologists to find. Clothes? Ear-rings? Spectacles? It all depends on what things are made of. There are links here with the science units on materials.
Making a finds catalogue
Archaeology is not just about discovery : you also have to share your findings with other people. Children are asked to select an artefact to draw and describe. When brought together these drawings form the class finds catalogue which they can share with their parents and other children.
Each session costs £75 for a morning / afternoon or £120 for the delivery of two sessions in the same day for schools in West Yorkshire. Travel expenses will be charge for schools outside West Yorkshire. The length of each session is usually around 2 hours in length with a break in the middle if desired.